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Monday, June 05, 2006

Uniquely Sinkabore - Chew your own gums

Apart from the glamourous aspects of Singapore showcased by the nation's PR mechanism, there are other aspects that are unique about the island state which the local tourism authority may or may not want the tourists to know about. Hence i have decided to compile a list of peculiarities about the island state, with the ban on chewing gums kick starting the inaugural entry.

Chew your own gums

The unsightly residual left behind from improper disposed gums had long been a bane for the nation which prides itself for its cleaniness. According to wikipedia, the sticking of chewing gums train sensors of the US$5 billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, resulted in costly downtime. In January 1992, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong decided on an outright ban on distribution of chewing gums.

At that time, the ban brought about international scrutiny on the nation. It came at a time when Singapore was lambasted for the caning of American teenager, Michael Fay, for vandalisim of public properties. Together with its other peculiar (from the perspective of Western democractic nations) laws, Singapore earned it's now infamous nickname of "nanny state".

Singapore's leaders maintained that as a sovereign state, it has the rights to formulate any policies that is befitting of its unique political and cultural values. In response to whether such draconian laws would stifle the creativity of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew had this to say : "If you can't think because you can't chew, try a banana."

The chewing gum ban is also a favourite joke for the Western media, in particular that of the United States. The ban of chewing is always among the list of things that the Americans associate with Singapore. In fact, National University of Singapore (NUS) included it in an (corny) advertisment aimed at attracting potential Masters students from United States.

"And i heard that they don't sell chewing gum there...."

posted by Stormtrooper's Lackey at 11:52 PM


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